New England Patriots Rumors: With Jamie Collins released, Pats should pounce

Detroit Lions outside linebacker Jamie Collins (8) (Credit: Detroit Free Press)
Detroit Lions outside linebacker Jamie Collins (8) (Credit: Detroit Free Press) /

Considering how poorly their Week 3 contest against the New Orleans Saints went, the New England Patriots should be looking to potentially make improvements up and down their roster. One potential improvement might have just fallen into their lap in the form of old friend Jamie Collins.

In case you missed it, Collins was cut this afternoon by the Detroit Lions. After failing to establish himself as a part of new head coach Dan Campbell’s defensive scheme, Collins was put on the trade block fairly early on in the season. Apparently the Lions couldn’t find any takers in Collins, and decided to release the veteran linebacker, allowing him to handpick his new place of work.

Collins’ struggles outside of New England continue to persist, as the linebacker has struggled to fit into other teams defensive schemes despite his dynamic abilities within the Patriots system. Collins was traded to the Cleveland Browns midway through the 2016 season, and was handed a hefty extension that head coach Bill Belichick didn’t want to give Collins.

After he flamed out in Cleveland and was cut after just two seasons, Collins returned to New England in 2019 on a one year deal and had arguably the best season of his career. That earned Collins another nice deal with the Lions in free agency, yet he finds himself without a home just over a year later. The Patriots defense hasn’t been as good as expected to start the season, and they should certainly look into bringing Collins back for his third stint with the Pats.

Why Jamie Collins signing with the New England Patriots makes sense

If you have watched the New England Patriots first three games of the season, you know that the team’s front seven clearly still needs work. Particularly, the linebacker core hasn’t been as good as expected to start off the season, and Collins could come in and help that void.

To start, Dont’a Hightower has had a slow start to the season after sitting out last season due to concerns over COVID. He hasn’t looked like his dominant self for the most part, and has openly said he has struggled to kick things back into gear to start the season.

Hightower’s struggles have been alleviated in a sense by Ja’Whaun Bentley’s hot start to the season. Bentley has been flying all over the place to start the season, and has clearly benefitted from playing alongside Hightower. But Bentley picked up an injury during Sunday’s game against the Saints, and never returned to the game.

This is where things get strange. After Bentley’s injury, Hightower was also taken out of the game for two series in favor of recent practice squad callup Jahlani Tavai, which forced Kyle Van Noy to switch back to inside linebacker for a stretch of the game. Eventually Hightower came back, but it was concerning to see him get replaced by Tavai, whatever the reason may be.

If Bentley is forced to miss time with his injury, the Patriots would really have no reason to not bring back Collins. Collins does function more as an outside linebacker, but he’s stronger in coverage and against the run than a guy like Josh Uche. And if Hightower or Bentley have issues, Van Noy has the ability to switch over to the inside when needed.

Collins offers the upside as a potentially game changing defensive force for the Patriots. His two most recent seasons with New England have been the best of his career. In 2019, Collins recorded 81 tackles, seven sacks, and three interceptions and fumbles forced each. Collins has the freedom to wreak havoc in New England’s system that he doesn’t seem to have elsewhere, which has prevented him from being an impact player for other teams.

If Collins is looking to bounce back once again, a return to the New England Patriots would make the most sense for him. He’s already familiar with the system, and would be able to slide right back into things pretty seamlessly considering he did just that in 2019.

Collins clearly won’t cost much considering nobody was willing to give up anything to trade for him. The Patriots don’t have a ton of cap space after going on a spending spree this past offseason, but Collins probably wouldn’t command anything more than a $1-1.5 million deal.

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Bringing back Collins for his third stint with the Patriots is the type of low risk/high reward deal Belichick has specialized in making throughout his tenure in charge of the team. Signing Collins in free agency in 2019 was the exact same type of deal, and Collins made Belichick look like a genius for pulling it off.

Belichick could again make the rest of the NFL look foolish for not figuring out how to use Collins correctly, and the team could certainly use some help at linebacker. For the Patriots front office, this one should be a no-brainer. Jamie Collins could be the key to getting the New England Patriots defense back on track, and the team would foolish to pass up this opportunity.